“In a remote area of Pennsylvania, Skylar
Neese was stabbed fifty times with a
“Hello,” someone said from behind me. I
turned to find a girl racing up the stairs to
“Hello,” I said.
“Congratulations on cracking the mystery,”
“I didn’t solve the mystery,” I said. “Raheem
The girl’s eyes twinkled. “Oh, the hot Arab
guy, right? Even though he did all the work
himself, at least you were seen with him a
number of times. That’s something. I’m
sorry for Nengi. But she got what she
“I guess.” Turning away, I continued up the
stairs. I counted silently, hoping she would
take the cue and shut up.
“How was it?” she asked.
I heaved a sigh of relief as I neared my
class room. A smile creeping to my face, I
waved her goodbye. Vanishing from the
meddling girl’s sight, I prayed I wouldn’t
have more meddlers ruining my day.
The classroom only had one soul in it.
Cynthia. As usual, I’d lingered in the
parking lot after our driver dropped us off,
just so I could be behind her. She hurled a
chocolate bar in her mouth and glared at
me with a heavy emotion I prayed would
“Well done,” she mock-commended.
“Thank you,” I played along.
“Do you have any idea what you have just
done, you idiot?”
What had I done except enable the serving
of justice? “I don’t know. Care to refresh
I didn’t expect her to reply. But she did.
“They are going to plant CCTVs all over the
For a moment I thought she would cry. Her
voice sounded like it. Why did they all fear
the cameras? As long as they weren’t
installed in the stalls, I didn’t see anything
to worry about.
“Relax,” I said. “It’s not so bad. The Bloody
Miri game just has to end is all.”
She shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t
believe you did that. Hand that innocent girl
over to the authorities.”
“Last time I checked, attempted murder
didn’t count as innocence.”
“Friends fight, you idiot. Friends fight and
“Lives were at stake,” I said. And the girl
had a motive for murder. Although Raheem
hadn’t given her a chance to explain it all, I
had a feeling this had to do with Henry.
Sauntering to my seat, I settled in it. Time
crept like a snail. Other members of the
class streaked in, each one too eager to
give me a piece of his mind.
“The thunder that will strike you is still
doing press up,” a boy said.
“Did Nengi do something to you in the past
life?” I heard another ask. “Anyone can see
you have something against her.”
“Thanks to you, there will be cameras in the
restroom,” a girl said. “Clap for yourself.”
Comments struck me from all angles. And
although I tried hard to pay them no heed,
success slithered from my grasp. Had we
been too rash in analyzing Doreen’s attack?
I would exit the classroom to put an end to
these comments, but going outside would
expose me to the rest of the school, and I
didn’t want that. In a few minutes, the bell
would go off for first period. I would
survive. Or so I thought.
We had English for first period and if I knew
Madam Charity well enough, I knew she
would spend close to half of her time
discussing about yesterday’s events.
Spending my morning in the sickbay didn’t
sound too bad an idea.
Grabbing my backpack, I made to get up
when I saw Doreen on the threshold. She
stared at me with a wounded look in her
eyes. With a weak smile, I ushered her in.
A smile graced her face as the advanced to
“Hey,” I said. Quiet ensued. And I didn’t
want it stretching even further. “How are
“I’m fine,” she said, sitting beside me.
Once again, silence stole us over. We just
kept gazing at the whiteboard. I knew she
had come to express gratitude, but she
couldn’t bring herself to start.
I turned to look at her, the dark circles
around her eyes catching my attention. “Did
you sleep at all?”
“How could I?” she asked. “My best friend is
“It’s not your fault,” I said. “You shouldn’t
“I know. It’s not my fault. But I can’t help
it.” Touching her chest, she went on,
“Somewhere in here, I’m half-pleased she
was brought to justice. But thinking like
this makes me feel like a monster. I’m
betraying her, aren’t I?”
“You’re not,” I said. “She committed a
crime. You should not feel sorry for
someone who tried to kill you. She had a
choice and she chose this.”
“But nothing! What if you had died?”
Her chest heaved as she swiped at a lone
tear sliding down her cheek. “My best friend
wanted me dead. Who can I trust now?”
“Don’t lose faith in humanity,” I said.
“There are good people out there, trust
Doreen shook her head with every strength
she had, as though shaking off my words.
“You don’t understand. She was like a sister
to me. We’ve been bestfriends ever since
we met in our freshman year.”
I understood. Nengi was to her what
Amarachi was to me. Amarachi’s doing this
to me would be a nightmare I needed to
wake up from.
“You have to move on,” I said. “I know it
isn’t easy but you don’t have a choice.
Remember that it could have been worse,
but you’re alive and well. Think of it this
way. You’re free from a friendship with a
potential murderer. Henry is free from a
relationship with a girl who could commit
murder at any point. Prison’s going to do
her much good. Perhaps when she’s
released sometime in future, she’ll turn a
new leaf, be a better person. Who knows,
her time behind bars, or wherever she finds
herself, could cause her to reevaluate her
life and want to be a better person, because
trust me, she wouldn’t want to end up there
a second time. So cheer up, please, and
move on. It’s all for the best.”
Doreen forced a smile. “Easy for you to say
this, eh? I guess other than being the
school sleuth, you’ve become a counselor.
Way to go.”
Indistinct voices filled the classroom,
forcing us to acknowledge the full room. Sat
with Flora in the seat directly in front of
me, Amarachi waited for my discussion with
Doreen to be over. Our other seatmate, the
unwanted one, had not arrived yet.
“Thank you so much for your help,” Doreen
Uncertain of how to respond, I nodded. After
a moment or two, I added, “If you need
someone to talk to, I’ll be here.”
“Okay.” She rose to her feet and headed out
of the classroom. Almost immediately,
Amarachi occupied the recently vacated
seat. The look on her face said nothing
“Girls are pissed off,” she said. “They think
the camera’s your idea.”
“It was all Raheem’s idea,” I said. “I wasn’t
even okay with it. Still am against it. But
Sir Amadi saw nothing wrong with it, so
here we are. Why does everyone think they
can just say rubbish about me and get away
with it? Hell! I’m done being quiet about
Springing to my feet, my voice flared, “I am
going to give these people a piece of my
mind! They can think what they want
Amarachi pulled me back to my seat with
such intensity that forced a gasp out of my
“What is wrong with you?” she whispered,
trying hard not to make us the object of
everyone’s attention. But we already had
everyone’s attention. “Just calm down, will
My eyes zeroed in on the empty space
between Amarachi and I, where Raheem
would sit once he arrived. It seemed he had
claimed my late coming title for himself. I
tried to force my thoughts away from him,
but luck sailed away from my grasp.
Now that we’d completed our assignment,
would we pretend we’d never been
acquaintances for a day or two, put it all
behind us and return to being strangers who
disliked each other? Or would we become
These thoughts revolved around my head as
I rose to my feet, joining the others in
saying good morning to Madam Charity as
she strode in. Only after we were back in
our seats did she let her gaze scan the
class. This had become her ritual —
scanning the class to spot anything out of
Her eyes narrowed and I knew she’d found
something. I followed her eyes till my gaze
fell on a classmate, John, playing third
wheel on a seat other than the one assigned
“Is that your seat?” she asked. She looked
over to Steve, John’s lone seatmate.
“Sorry,” John said. Grabbing his sling bag,
he left for his seat.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Raheem
step into the class. I turned to shoot him a
full stare. He caught my eye, but I didn’t
look away. My flaming gaze explored every
inch of his body, starting from his rockstar
hairstyle to his pair of sneakers.
If it were another student having facial hair,
dressed in sneakers when the school
recommended formal shoes, Madam Charity
would flare. But she did nothing, said
nothing. Smiling at him, she seemed to
admire his elegance. He strode past her and
muttered his good morning.
“Good morning,” Madam Charity echoed.
“You’re right on time. Class is just about to
I rolled my eyes. Of course she would not
say a thing about Raheem’s late coming.
“Did you get a tutor?” she asked.
“Hired one,” Raheem said. “A much better
tutor than the brightest student here could
If he expected his words to hit home, he
would be disappointed by the amusement
on my face. But he didn’t turn to find out.
“That settles it then.” Madam Charity
watched him move to join a pair of boys on
their seat. Raheem waited for them to
adjust, but they didn’t.
Madam Charity smiled at him. “Are you
forgetting your seat?”
“Of course not,” Raheem said. “I’m just
open to new things. Besides, I have a
feeling I will be more comfortable here.”
Just to drive home a point, he made a
special effort to lock eyes with me for a
second too long.
“We have rules here, Raheem,” Madam
Charity said. Everyone could see past her
facade. We all knew she had forced herself
to say those words.
“Are you sure you don’t want to make an
exception for me?” Raheem asked.
Had Madam Charity been ten years younger,
she would melt before Raheem’s intense
gaze. But even now, she did melt—if smiling
like an idiot counted.
She sighed. “Rules are rules—”
“Go on,” I said.
Everyone turned to look at me. Inwardly, I
sighed. When would they stop being
astonished to hear my voice? They had to
get used to this. This was the real me. Not
the dumb, shy girl I had pretended to be all
“Give him the exception you’re dying to
give,” I said. “It’s plain as day you want to.”
Amarachi and Flora gasped. But I paid them
no mind. They probably thought my new
found esteem would get me into trouble
sometime soon. And I didn’t care. At least
Now that everyone had my attention,
including Raheem and Madam Charity who
constituted my primary audience, I rose to
my feet. Dad had taught me that if engaged
in a conversation with an older one who had
some level of authority over me, I best be
on my feet until told otherwise.
“I don’t know what he is,” I said. “Trump’s
heir or what? I don’t get why everyone
aches to give him special treatment. He is
allowed to drive, and I doubt he is up to
legal age. He is allowed to keep facial hair
and look like a rockstar, while other guys
are all clean shaven. He’s allowed to wear
sneakers while we are all confined to formal
shoes. Look what happened with John. Poor
John. You made him return to his seat. And
now, Raheem has done the very same thing
and you’re dying to treat him as a special
child. What is wrong with everyone around
here? Is he the director’s illegitimate child
Madam Charity’s lips flew apart, but
Raheem held out a hand, interrupting her
before she even said a word. His eyes
burned into mine. They held no resentment,
“Do you have a problem with me, Miss
Brown?” he asked.
“Hah!” I scoffed. “Don’t flatter yourself.”
“Then you best watch your tongue,” he
warned. “Or you’ll get into trouble.”
“Too late,” Madam Charity said. “She got
into trouble the moment she spoke.”
“So much for freedom of speech,” I
“Find yourself in the Principal’s office,”
Madam Charity said. “And account for your
“How about I account for your partiality
too?” I asked. “Sounds fair.”
Raheem grinned. “Fair enough.”
Moments passed and Madam Charity said
nothing. This had to be her way of waving
off her request that I go see Sir Amadi.
More stories @ www.chorusman.com
Winking, Raheem flashed me a wry smile I
found contagious. My struggle to swallow
my smile proved futile. Seemingly satisfied,
Raheem turned around and occupied his
new seat, with Eric and Gift as his
I settled in my seat and plucked my
notebook from my backpack, feigning
oblivion of Amarachi staring like I’d grown a
horn. I turned the pages till a blank page
stared at me. Staring back at it, I awaited
Madam Charity spoke after forever. “The
school is divided now. While most are
against your meddling around and handing
the said student over to the authorities,
only a fraction is in support of your
Although she referred to Raheem and I, she
didn’t for once stare in my direction. So
much for claiming my right to speak.
“And where do you stand?” Raheem asked.
“With or against?”
“I’m a neutral human,” Madam Charity said.
“But even at that, I’m impressed by the way
you followed up the case.”
“And obviously you’re not easily
impressed?” Raheem said.
“This is so wrong!” Cynthia said. “Friends
fight! They fight over trivial matters. Why
does someone have to be tagged a murderer
for fighting with her friend? This makes no
“It was no trivial matter,” Madam Charity
clarified. “Neither was it a friendly fight. It
was Nengi’s attempt to keep her secret
safe. While in a relationship with Doreen’s
brother, I’m sure you all know him, Nengi
committed two abortions. And none of those
children were his. Sadly, she lost her womb
in the second abortion. By accident, Doreen
found out. She didn’t let Nengi know she
knew her secret. Nengi on the other hand,
didn’t let her know she knew she’d found
out. She knew Doreen would tell Henry and
it would all be over. No one would want
their brother tied to such immoral girl,
would they? And Nengi didn’t want that to
happen. She knew if she didn’t stop Doreen,
everyone would know, including her parents.
Her parents, being the staunch Catholics
they are, would be highly disappointed. And
so she didn’t wait to find out their reaction.
You know the rest.”
“And so she tried to kill her best friend,” a
girl said. “It still makes no sense.”
“If she intended to kill her, how come
Doreen still lives?” another asked.
“She chickened out at the last minute,”
Madam Charity said. “But she was too
scared to call for help. Some of her
classmates even testified to seeing her
disillusionment and absent mindedness
during that period.”
“It’s depraved that anyone would try to kill
their best friend,” Rose said.
“Depraved, yes,” Madam Charity said. “But
it does happen. Have none of you heard of
what happened to Skylar Neese?”
She trained her eyes on Raheem, believing
he knew the details. When he didn’t
respond, she continued, still searching his
eyes. “On the night of July 5, 2012?”
Allowing her gaze hover above everyone,
which by divine intervention included me,
she hoped someone, anyone knew. But
nobody said a word.
Giving up, she told the story, “In a remote
area of Pennsylvania, Skylar Neese was
stabbed fifty times with a kitchen knife. And
guess who did it? Her two best friends!
Rachel Shoaf and Shelia Eddy! And what
was their motive? They didn’t want to be
friends with her anymore! It’s sick how
depraved the world gets by the second.
These children are psychopaths in the
making. I’m just so disturbed our school
sheltered one of them for so long a time.”
For a moment, she allowed thoughts
overwhelm her, and then she shrugged.
Picking her textbook from the desk before
her, she said, “Let’s get down to business.”
“About time,” I muttered.
It took forty minutes, the going off of the
bell, and the absence of Madam Charity for
me to speak again. “I’m not staying for
“Oh, you’re off to meet fairy godmother,”
“Right,” I said.
“What was that about?” Amarachi asked, her
face stern. “You almost got yourself into
“But it didn’t happen.”
“It almost did,” Flora’s seatmate, Ibim said.
“Nearly cannot kill a bird, can it?” I asked.
Without awaiting a reply, I made for the
“You’re early,” Stella said. Sat behind the
counter, she emptied spoons of cereal into
her mouth. “Give me a moment to finish
She had all the time in the world.
Wordlessly, I perched on the bed I’d been
using for the past three days. Quiet took
dwelling in our midst. The sound of Stella
chewing on her food sought to sever the
silence, but it held no such strength.
Stepping out of my shoes, I took off my
jacket, and rolled my sleeves, baring my
skin for what would come. I lay on my side
and faced the wall opposite me. In no time,
I had Stella beside me, preparing to
administer the final drip.
“You won’t even ask if I had breakfast?” I
Stella thought for a moment. “You would
not come here on an empty stomach.”
“You forgot to ask,” I said.
Was it just me or did she not look well? I
didn’t want to pry, but— “Are you…okay?”
“Yeah.” She smiled to reassure me.
I smiled back, but it lasted a second shorter
than her forced smile. “Nice try. Now,
seriously, what’s wrong?”
A genuine smile lit up her face as she
tightened the tourniquet around my arm.
“What now? You know me well enough to
tell my lie from truth?”
“If you’re thinking about yesterday and the
game…” I started, but she waved off my
words with a backward flip of her hand.
“I’m not thinking about that,” she said.
“It’s fine if you won’t talk about it,” I said.
“I won’t insist.”
“Not everyone who come into your life is
here to stay,” she said. The look on my face
said ‘tell me something I don’t already
Stella continued, “While some are here to
stay, some are not. They’re only around to
teach you a vital lesson. And then they are
gone. They don’t necessarily die. They just
stop being a part of your life.”
I didn’t like the direction of her words. I
didn’t like the rather wistful look on her
face. A question revolved around my mind.
“Are you leaving me too?”
Although my question almost made no
sense because Stella had been serving as
the school nurse for more than ten years, I
had to ask.
“Are you?” I asked.
“No, dear,” she said. “I walked into your life.
There is no way I’m walking out. I’m here to
I wanted to believe her, but I couldn’t. “But
you sound like you’re making plans to
Stella looked away for a few moments. She
seemed to be debating over something.
Whatever it was, I hoped she rounded up
Looking back at me, she said, “My job as
the school nurse ends today.”
“What?” I gasped. “Why? But you said you’d
be the school nurse to save lives.”
Frantically, I searched for a possible cause
of her job termination. “Is it because of
Bloody Miri? Sir Amadi already agreed to
install CCTVs in the restroom. The game
will never be played again, I promise.
Please, you don’t have to go. Please, stay.”
“It’s not about the game,” she said. “My
deal was only to last for twelve years. I’m
“I don’t understand.”
“I made a promise to do this for Mimi for
twelve years, since she wanted to be a
nurse. The twelfth year is ended.”
“Do you have to go?”
“I’m getting married, Vicky. I have to travel
to the Uk. That’s where the wedding will
My throat tightened at the sound of this.
She was getting married. On a normal day, I
would be happy for her, and I wanted to be,
but I couldn’t get past the feeling of
emptiness crawling into my soul. I knew
how selfish I sounded, but I could only think
of what would become of me. I’d been close
to her for barely three days, but getting
used to her came naturally, as though she’d
been destined to be a part of my life.
Knowing her had replaced my misery with
joy, my tears with smiles. Knowing her had
undone my stepmother’s evil, restoring my
place as the daughter of Mr. Brown.
With my fairy godmother leaving for the Uk,
I would never see her again, unless she
returned sometime in the future. It hurt me,
deep inside. The bareness of her departure
brought to mind the emptiness I had felt
when my father died.
Forcing my mind away from my loss of
hope, I asked, “When’s the wedding?”
“In two weeks time,” she said.
“My fairy godmother is getting married and I
don’t even get to attend,” I said.
“I’ll send you pictures,” she suggested. “And
videos. You won’t even feel like you missed
“I don’t have a phone,” I said.
Ignoring my pitiful statement, she said,
“Vicky dear, don’t feel like this or I’ll feel
bad. I would stay if I could, but I have to
go. Next week, someone’s taking over.
Elizabeth Monroe from the Uk. She’s a
“Great. You’re going to the Uk, so they
send someone from there as a
“How cliché, right?” Stella teased. “She’s a
“There is no replacing you,” I said. “I will
miss you, fairy godmother.”
She pulled me into a hug. “And I you, my
“This is our goodbye?”
“There is no goodbye,” she said.
To be continued